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Flavourful Fare for a Picnic Lunch
Pairing food with sunshine and fresh air is the best way to enjoy any meal. Why does picnic food always taste so much better? It may be the fresh air, the great company, or sensation of getting Vitamin D after a long winter.
The first step is picking what to bring – particularly when you want to keep the meals fresh and healthy. The main things to think about when picking your picnic dishes, is what foods make the least mess, involve the easiest clean-up and can be prepared in advance without spoiling.
One important thing to keep in mind is the temperature food needs to be stored at. Many fruit and vegetables need to be kept at cool temperatures to avoid food borne illness. Throwing food into a cooler, or keeping it cool with an ice pack is a great way to ensure maximized freshness.
This summer, start your picnic with some vegetables and home made dips. Carrots, celery and peppers work great for dipping into whatever your taste buds crave. Hummus, eggplant dip, bean dip, guacamole, olive tapenade and tahini are all delicious party favours at picnics, and are full of nutrients, healthy fats and rich in protein. Dips are one of the easiest snacks to make, and the best part is that you can get as creative as you want with them. Mix your own, unique flavours to really add some pizazz!
For the bulk of the meal, I recommend serving quinoa salad. Throw in your favourite veggies to get the nutritional benefits, while enjoying the filling content of this gluten-free grain. Some of my favourite things to add into quinoa are grilled sweet potato, goji berries, spinach and almond slivers. Quinoa is easy to make a lot of at once, and can easily be made well in advance.
If your picnic is just an afternoon snack, or you want a small snack before mealtime, apples and almond butter are always a great crowd pleaser. Keep your apples fresh after cutting them by soaking them in lemon juice for five minutes after cutting them up.
Worried you do not have enough food? Make one more dish to guarantee everyone leaves feeling full. Bean salad or cabbage slaw both make a great side dish to your quinoa. Either one of these dishes is a colourful addition to your picnic spread.
We all know that we cannot finish off the picnic without our favourite juicy fruit: watermelon. Containing 91% water by weight, hydrating has never tasted so good. When you are outside in the sun for hours, it is easy to forget to drink sufficient amounts of water. Having even a few slices of this juicy pink fruit at the end of your picnic meal will quench your thirst.
So, next time the sun is shining, pack up your basket with forks, plates, a lot of water, your favourite dishes, and enjoy the great outdoors!
Kale Slaw Salad
Full of colour, texture and flavour – this is a highly nutritious salad. The longer it marinates the better it tastes!
1 bunch if kale (any variety), chopped into bite size piece with rib removed
1 head red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 beet shredded
2 tbsp hemp seeds
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
2-4 tablespoons raw
1 tsp sea salt
1. Shred the cabbage, carrots, beets and fennel in a food processor with shredding blade or use a mandolin or hand slice into thin strips.
2. In a mixing bowl, toss in all the raw vegetable ingredients (except the hemp seeds).
3. In a separate bowl mix together the vinaigrette.
4. Combine vinaigrette with raw veggies and toss together until the cabbage and kale are well coated.
5. Allow salad to marinate in fridge for a few minutes – or up to an hour, mixing in the hemp seeds just before serving.
Marni Wasserman’s life is rooted in healthy eating. Culinary nutritionist, author of “Plant-Based Diet for Dummies,” and owner of Toronto’s first plant-based cooking studio, Marni uses passion and experience to educate individuals on how to adopt a realistic plant-based lifestyle that is both simple and delicious. Visit: www.marniwasserman.com